Head-to-head poll sees closer gubernatorial race
By Neal P. Goswami
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU | September 02,2014
MONTPELIER — Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne is seizing on the results of a poll released last week as an indication Vermonters are embracing his candidacy.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is seeking a third two-year term, is leading Milne 48 percent to 36 percent, according to a poll released Friday by Rasmussen Reports. The margin is smaller than expected for an incumbent running against a little-known challenger.
According to Rasmussen, the survey of 700 likely voters in Vermont was conducted Thursday and Friday. The margin of error is 4 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. Field work was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research LLC.
However, the poll does not mention Libertarian candidate Dan Feliciano. Although Milne easily secured the GOP nomination with more than 70 percent of the vote in the party’s Aug. 26 primary, Feliciano was able to secure double-digit support in the Republican race thanks to an aggressive write-in campaign. He will appear on the general election ballot as the Libertarian nominee.
Regardless, the Milne campaign said it sees the poll as good news.
“This recent poll confirms what we thought all along: Vermonters are ready for fresh ideas and practical leadership to solve our affordability crisis, jump-start our state economy and clean up Shumlin’s bureaucratic health care nightmare,” Milne said in a statement.
The campaign said the Rasmussen poll showed significant gains for Milne since a July CBS News/New York Times poll favored Shumlin 52 percent to 27 percent. But there were differences in methodology between the polls.
Rasmussen relies on robocalls and “an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel” to account for cellphone users. The data collected is then “processed through a weighting program to insure that the sample reflects the overall population in terms of age, race, gender, political party and other factors.”
Shumlin’s campaign declined to discuss the Rasmussen poll. Campaign manager Scott Coriell, the governor’s special assistant who was tapped late last week to head the re-election effort, said Shumlin plans to ramp up his efforts.
“The governor is ready to work hard this campaign season, engage with Vermonters about the challenges and opportunities facing our state in the years ahead and earn every single vote. That’s where his focus will remain,” Coriell said.
Shumlin had been refusing to engage in campaigning until after Labor Day, a luxury an incumbent governor with plenty of public appearances and free media coverage can afford. Shumlin’s campaign, in addition to the announcement of Coriell as campaign manager, said the governor would hold a campaign kickoff Sept. 9. Details are expected to be announced this week.
Milne, heading into the general election, is at a distinct disadvantage in the money race. Shumlin has more than $1.1 million in the bank, while Milne has raised just $42,000 or so, according to his most recent disclosure form. Additionally, the Republican Governors Association has not committed to providing Milne any significant resources.